Sometimes superheroes don’t wear capes… (though nurses used to)

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Police officer Jillian Gibson has written and self-published a book for children about the unsung heroes of frontline emergency work, including nurses.

First time author and Dubbo Sergeant Jillian Gibson is like so many other police mums and dads. In 15 years with the NSW Police Force, she’s worked numerous night shifts and many a Christmas day and often missed special occasions with her boys, now aged five and seven.

“We, as police, are just ordinary people who are trying to make a difference and do our job,” she said. “Sometimes I miss out on things with my kids, but it’s because of them that we do the work we do. We try and make the world a bit of a better place for them.”

While talking with a friend about writing a book on their career, Jill suggested writing about superheroes who don’t wear capes. Her husband Ross, a Senior Sergeant at Wellington, said: you should do it.

As she does with everything, Jill jumped into the project whole-heartedly. She spent time getting the words right and then sought the assistance of the NSW Writer’s Centre to perfect her storyteller’s voice. The outcome was Mummy do all superheroes wear capes?, an engaging photo story book about different emergency services.

“It is not just police who do a fantastic job in our community and can sometimes be under-appreciated. It is also teachers, nurses, fire-fighters, paramedics and helicopter rescue pilots. In the vast majority of cases we put our heart and mind on the line in our jobs,” Jill said.

When it came time to choose the illustrations for her story, Jill knew anything cartoonish would take away from her central theme.

“What I wanted was a clear and defined idea of what a superhero is, be they police officers, paramedics or ambos. Not something that looks comical — because they’re all very serious jobs. You lose a little bit of yourself in every job that is featured in the book.”

So she opted for photographs as being more realistic and symbolic of the heroes in her story.

Some of our best friends are ambos

Jill comes from a family of frontline workers and service personnel. Her mother was a nurse and her father a doctor, both were in the army. Her father-in-law was in the navy. There are teachers and firefighters on both sides of the family and some of her best friends are ambos.

“The names in the book represent people who’ve had a lot of influence on my life or who have helped me,” Jill explained. “But I don’t know any helicopter rescue pilots.”

Jill got her inspiration for a helicopter rescue pilot from the life of Paralympian Scott Reardon, who grew up near Temora in the Riverina, where she once lived.

In 2002 Scott was severely injured in a farming accident when his shoelace got caught in the power take-off shaft of a tractor. He was airlifted by the Snowy Hydro SouthCare rescue helicopter but lost his lower right leg due to injury. Scott’s amazing recovery and subsequent career in multiple sports, including winning gold in the men’s 100m T42 at the 2016 Rio Paralympics, is testament to the vital role of frontline workers.

“Being a helicopter pilot is a cool job!” she enthused.

Mummy do all superheroes wear capes? is sold through a dedicated Facebook page with part of the proceeds going to NSW Police Legacy.

At the time of writing, close to 100 copies have been purchased as gifts. Local police are also keeping the book in the truck to hand out at presentations. Just prior to Christmas, the book was donated to local hospitals along with thousands of dollars worth of toys and gifts. Each year police at Dubbo, Wellington, Gilgandra and Narromine get together and donate boxes of toys for kids who unfortunately find themselves in emergency departments at Christmas time.

Jill was also contacted by a pre-school that wants to use her book as an educational resource. It’s rather humbling to Jill, who sees herself as a normal person.

“The real superheroes for me are my kids. They are the ones that keep me grounded and make me want to make a little bit of a difference.

“I am lucky to have a supportive family, great friends through work and the community and the most wonderful kids and husband in the world. Without his support I never would have written the book. It just would have been one of those ideas I had 20 years ago that someone else did.”

Mummy do all superheroes wear capes? is available from Books by Jill on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BooksbyJill/ for $16.99 plus postage.

Above: Sergeant Jill Gibson’s seven-year-old son Thomas reads ‘Superheroes’.

Thank you to Police News magazine for permission to republish this story.

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